Woman sparks rabies fears after bringing pet racoon named Rocky into bar
A woman is facing criminal charges after bringing a wild raccoon into a bar, sparking rabies fears.
Erin Christensen, from Maddock, in North Dakota, USA, took the wild animal – who she had named Rocky – to a bar on September 6 during happy hour and was seen showing it to customers.
The-38-year-old had a search warrant issued against her, with police eventually finding her and her new furry friend before putting her under arrest.
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She is charged with providing false information to law enforcement, tampering with evidence and unlawful possession of furbearers.
Christensen said she and her family found the raccoon on the side of a road three months ago and were nursing the animal back to health.
She claimed she was going to release it back into the wild.
Despite bartender Cindy Smith saying the animal did not bite anyone on the premises, the North Dakota Health and Human Services Department issued a statement urging anyone who may have had any contact with the raccoon to seek medical care immediately.
Christensen told the Bismarck Tribune : “It’s unfair and too much was done to detain an innocent raccoon.
"They were not worried about the health of us if we had rabies or not. They were worried about finding and killing Rocky and putting me behind bars.”
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The owning of wild raccoon's is outlawed in the state of North Dakota and the animal is considered a primary carrier of the virus in the United States although instances of human infection are extremely rare.
Upon finding the animal, authorities tested it for rabies before euthanising it, though the test showed the animal did not have rabies.
If found guilty, Christensen could face two years in jail and a $7,500 (£6,900) fine.
Her initial court hearing is set for Monday (September 26).
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